The New York Times reached a major milestone earlier this month, when the company announced it had hit 4.3 million paid subscribers. Generating that sort of enthusiasm for a digital news product doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of a highly crafted revenue generation strategy with subscription sign-up pages that drive reader conversions.
Subscription sign-up pages are one of the best tools that digital publishers have for encouraging readers to take the plunge and become paying subscribers. Subscription sign-up pages also provide publishers with an opportunity to influence the way readers perceive their publications and the value that they provide to the community at large.
With so much on the line, digital publishers can’t afford to mess up this up.
The Best Subscription Sign-Up Pages
The best subscription sign-up pages are designed with careful attention to language and the placement of links or buttons. They utilize clean layouts and user-friendly designs, which makes it easier for readers to learn about which subscription packages are available to purchase.
Nothing ruins a subscription sign-up page like a cumbersome registration and payment process. That’s why we recommend that publishers utilize seamless payment solutions that minimize the number of clicks it takes to sign-up for auto-payments or recurring billing.
For the best chance of converting casual readers into paying subscribers, we recommend that publishers utilize these best practices.
Best Practices When Designing Subscription Sign-Up Pages
1. Create a sense of urgency
The best subscription sign-up pages do more than just educate readers about which subscription packages are available. They actually convert readers into subscribers. How do they do that? One way is by creating a sense of urgency.
When designing subscription sign-up pages, we recommend utilizing calls-to-action that create a sense of urgency and make readers want to subscribe right away.
The Wall Street Journal offers a great example of what this looks like in the real world. The newspaper’s subscription page frequently includes special offers or limited-time discounts. For example, in early February, the publisher was promoting a Presidents’ Day Sale with subscriptions that started at $1 for two months. These sorts of limited-time deals create a sense of urgency that makes readers feel like they might be missing out on a deal if they don’t subscribe right away.
2. Highlight the best deals
The best subscription sign-up pages give readers more than one package to choose from. For example, The New York Times gives readers the option to choose from Basic subscriptions, All Access subscriptions, or All Access + Print subscriptions. Different readers have different needs, so it makes sense to offer multiple pricing options here.
What’s even more interesting, from a best practices perspective, is the way The New York Times lays out its subscription sign-up pages. The publisher uses a special header that says “Reader Favorite” to flag its most popular subscription package, the Basic Subscription.
Which specific package a publisher chooses to highlight as the best offer will vary depending on reader demographics and a number of other outside factors. It’s important to note that the best deal isn’t always the one that costs the least. Highlighting any offer, and including a brief description of why that offer is the most popular among subscribers, is a sure-fire way to succeed in increasing reader conversions.
3. Include a feature comparison
As a best practice, subscription sign-up pages should always been designed with clean layouts and clear calls-to-action. But whenever possible, they should also include comparison tables that make it easy for readers to understand the difference between similar subscription packages.
The Washington Post does a great job of this on its subscription page. The title and price for each subscription package is clearly laid out, and readers can quickly see bullet points that highlight the best parts of each package. Below the comparison table are links to subscription packages that are less frequently selected by readers, like gift subscriptions, enterprise solutions, and the academic rate.
4. Use exit pop-ups
If you don’t already use exit pop-ups on your website, then you might not be familiar with what these are. Exit pop-ups are messages that “pop up” on the visitor’s screen before they navigate away from a website. So, when a visitor’s mouse scrolls over to the back tab on the browser screen, or when the visitor is about to close the tab, the exit pop-up appears on top of the original webpage with an offer enticing the visitor to stick around.
The Washington Post is one of a number of newspaper publishers using exit pop-ups to improve conversions on its subscription sign-up pages. Visitors who are about to leave the website are presented with an offer to subscribe for just $1. The pop-up uses large, bold text and gets its message across in as few words as possible. The design is hard to miss, which is exactly what a publisher is going for in this scenario.
If you’d like to learn even more about how to optimize your subscription sign-up pages using the best practices for digital publishers, reach out to our team here at Web Publisher PRO.